The middle child of the XB lineup, the lightshow and sound signature step it up a level.
Hey everyone, Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom.
I’ve done reviews on the XB20 and the XB40 today, we’re wrapping it up with the XB30. Over the past two months, Sony have been kicking butt with their newest Bluetooth speakers. We’ll see if this one, lives up to the hype. The XB30 is priced at $150 at the time of this review. As always I’ll place my affiliate links above, click on my links and they’ll give you the most updated prices in real-time, you never know when these things might go on sale.
The XB30 as you might have guessed falls into the mid-tier speaker line up. Considering I’ve tested all three, the holy trinity, the XB30 is identical in styling as the bigger XB40. Same durable front grill, slightly smooth texture all around, the front has the same LED lights which I’ll show later, and on the rear, you have the passive bass radiator.
One question you have to ask yourself to see if the Sony speaker is right for you: do you need a speaker that’s fully waterproof? Like speakers from JBL, Fugoo and UE to name a few… Or if splash resistance from Sony is just enough.
Looking at buttons up top, the XB30 is a mirror image of the other two, while still providing the same quality feel when pressed. The far left toggles “extra bass” on or off, holding it down does turn off the LED’s if you would like. With the telephone icon, holding it down will give you battery information, tapping it when not on a phone call brings up Google Assistant or Siri. And of course, if there’s an incoming phone call, you can answer and use the speaker like a speakerphone. With my testing, Sony the XB30 is clear, doesn’t give off that bathroom echo reverb, and standing 5 feet away, my voice is still very much audible.
Returning to the buttons, pause play, volume up and down, but right in the middle, just like JBL Connect Plus, UE Party UP, this “add” button allows you can pair two Sony XB speakers and have them offer stereo separation, which I highly recommend or you can pair up to 10 speakers and have them all play at the same time. Granted you can’t pair up to 100 speakers or more like the competition, but ten is surely enough for most people. With my tests, syncing worked and during playback 99% of the time, the signal was clean and clear. Once in awhile, I would hear the speakers cut out, and that’s with the speakers in the same room. For those who own more than one of these speakers, let us know in the comments section below if you had a similar issue or not. Hopefully, you can help other’s thinking of buying two of these to pair.
Moving on, NFC is offered which is seriously underrated. Tap your NFC enabled phone and have the speaker sync nearly instantly. Rotating to the rear, behind the flap is a 3.5mm input, a USB port to use the speaker like a power bank to charge your phone or other devices, and dead smack in the middle is the AC wall adapter port. Oddly, this speaker doesn’t use USB 2.0 or USB Type-C to recharge. You will need the supplied wall plug if you ever travel, so keep that in mind. Touching base on battery life, Sony is claiming up to 24 hours of use, 4 hours more than the Charge 3, and way more than what UE offers. With my testing that I perform on every speaker, leaving the speaking playing at 50% volume, I was able to get 14 hours and 52 minutes, and that’s with Extra Bass on and the LED’s. And holding off on going into the sound test, I believe most people will use Extra Bass since that’s the only way the Sony Speakers would sound competitive on the market in my opinion.
Oh, and Sony is using Bluetooth 4.2 – testing wireless range, having the signal go through a wall and a storage cabinet, I was able to achieve about 60 linear feet with my Samsung S8+ that I recently cracked the screen with.
THE LIGHT SHOW
And last, possibly one of the biggest reasons why you would buy this speaker over others is the LED lights. They fade in and out, there’s a mini strobe light that pulsates to the music, and a bunch of other effects. And the lights actually looks really good. I can see this in dorm rooms, if you’re having some late night jamming session and the lights are dim, it’s surely a conversation starter for sure. If you have two of these laying around, they look pretty legit to accent the mood. If you download the app Fiestable or Songpal, you get the same amount of settings as you do with the bigger XB40, giving you the ability to change some of its colors and have them fade to different styles. They could use some more to be honest or at least a customization mode for users to play around with, but what is available is way more than most speakers on the market.
So, to the point you’ve been waiting for – the sound review. First up, this is always hit or miss, some say it’s a placebo effect, but with my time testing audio, you have some speakers or headphones respond to a break-in period better than others. When I first played the XB30, the bass was a bit strong and it was noticeable there was spillover into the mid-range. After the first hour – man, did the XB30 consistently sounded better. Comparing to the JBL Charge 3, the Sony is slightly louder and offers slightly more bass. It’s not a huge leap, but if you had them side by side, you can tell there’s a difference. For a mid-tier speaker, it’s punchy and offers a bass boosted sound signature. It’s not deep and resonating, but comparing to the many other $150 to $200 competitors out there, the XB30 has some of the most bass.
The mid-range when first testing sounded recessed, but after about an hour, mid-range was as forward and as bright as the Charge 3, and at times, louder and more pronounced than the Charge 3. Keep in mind, I still love my JBL speaker, and I’m confident many of you do as well, it’s still a great speaker, and the performance is very close. As for the high-notes, nothing tinging was experienced to cause any ear ringing or listening fatigue. However, I do wish there was more detail or better resolution on the top end at full volume. As for soundstage, Bluetooth speakers always struggle in this area, however, the XB30 does very well for a Bluetooth Speaker, better than most out there, and inches out the JBL Charge 3 by a hair as well.
In the end and to summarize, the JBL Charge 3 at times sounds clearer as there’s just an ever so slightly lesser amount of bass. But most of the time, for the average consumer, I believe the majority will enjoy the bassier experience, and more forward and colorful sound coming from Sony over JBL. Actually, over many other speakers at this price range. More so than Fugoo, better than the smaller Bose Revolve, the Revolve+ was very good though, the Sony did better than the UE Boom 2 hands down. In the end, if you need a more rugged build, waterproofing, something that you want to take somewhat of a beating for peace of mind, the competitors are for sure better, the Charge 3 I would say offers both great audio and the aforementioned, but if you’re solely basing your decision on audio in the $150 range, the XB30 is the one I would highly recommend you try first.
So that’s it for this review, hopefully, it helped you in some way. And if you can, please be sure to follow my Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. I’m Jimmy with JimsReviewRoom, and I’m here to help you make that purchase decision. You guys take care, and I’ll see you, on the next one.
[table id=2 hide_columns=”all” show_columns=”a,b,e,h,g”/] Specs from manufacturer. If incorrect, please contact us.